Finding Her Voice

Friday, January 21, 2011 - 11:40am

Woman speaks for the first time in years after voice box transplant.

A California woman is finding her voice after years of silence.

For more than a decade Brenda Jensen has lived without a voice, using an electronic device to help her speak.

On Thursday Brenda met the surgical team who performed the rare operation last October that has given her her voice.

"It sounds pretty good, I'm impressed," she said.

Brenda stopped speaking eleven years ago after a breathing tube used during surgery damaged her larynx.

She also uses a tracheotomy for breathing.

During the 18 hour operation doctors replaced her larynx, thyroid gland and trachea using organs from an accident victim.

Doctors say Brenda was a good candidate because she was already taking anti-rejection medication from a previous kidney and pancreas transplant.

It was the first time the wind pipe and thyroid were transplanted simultaneously, allowing Brenda's natural voice to be fully restored.

"It's just been totally life changing in so many ways, and like I said I've got friends I call back East, they didn't even believe it was me. They kept saying no it's not Brenda, look at your caller ID, it's me," she said.

The best part about ditching her electronic voice box?

"You always have to worry about when you're in the middle of a conversation your battery goes dead, and then you don't have a voice again," she says.

The next step for Brenda is to have the tube in her throat removed.

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